Inclusive responses to intentional internet disruptions

07 December 2016 - A Workshop on Guadalajara,Mexico


Intentional disruptions of internet and electronic communications -- also called internet shutdowns -- significantly impact the economy and free expression. Disruptions stifle sustainable growth and hamper inclusivity by cutting off marginalized voices, serving as an early warning mechanism of human rights violations. Conservative estimates of a recent shutdown indicated losses as much as $25 million per day for the disruption to mobile banking services alone.

Largely ordered by government ICT ministries, internet shutdowns are defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information. At other times, application-specific shutdowns are ordered by public officials – judges, for instance – in order to impose sanctions on a specific company, unaware of the disproportionality of such a measure.

Access Now documented nearly 20 shutdowns in 2015 and over 15 in the first half of 2016, including in South Asia, North America, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, and MENA.

Access to the internet and communications technologies is essential to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. When services are disrupted, the ICT economy is significantly impacted by these government orders. A concerted, organized response as well as norm building is necessary to address this challenge in order to promote the internet as a platform for achieving the sustainable development goals. The rise of shutdowns is especially troubling given our increasing reliance upon internet connectivity to enjoy basic human rights and document their abuses.

Speakers provisionally confirmed:

Aaronson, Susan
Ahmad, Shahzad
Doneda, Danilo
Duru Aydin, Deniz
Hiselius, Patrick
Lichtenberg, Judith
Ming, Sze
O’Connell, Andy 
Pietikainen, Milka